Suzuki’s Silver Bullet
by Gary Charpentier
Having tested the SV650 back in 1999, I remember telling my friend Mark Moschel that it would be incredible if they came out with a liter-class version. We speculated then that it would be a real wheelie monster and an absolute hooligan’s dream. Judging from my experience on this S model, it appears we were dead wrong. Suzuki’s latest sport-tourer is a sophisticated steed. Almost as docile at low rpms as it’s little brother, the new SV1K makes a perfect streetbike. You can burble along contentedly in city traffic without a glitch, getting nary a burp or hiccup from the superbly mapped fuel injection. Yet when you get out on the open road and twist the throttle, the big V-twin comes alive and thrusts you forward with authority. Still, everything remains solidly under control.
Riding this bike as hard as I could on public roads, I never felt I was in over my head. Only when I glanced down at the large LCD speedometer did I realize that I was deep into the triple-digits. Approaching a sharp corner, I squeezed the brakes and was amazed at the quickness with which we shed miles per hour. Leaning it in, I realized that I could have taken the corner much faster, as there was lots of clearance left and the sticky Michelin Pilot Sports remained glued to the pavement. Leaving the slick-shifting gearbox in top gear still produced gobs of torque on corner exit and we proceeded smoothly to the next curve. Downshifting this time, I left the brakes alone and fed the throttle in smoothly before the apex. Aahhhhh, that’s more like it. This time we drifted a bit on corner exit and as we hit redline I snicked up to the next gear as we straightened out. I think we would have left most 4-cylinder sportbikes for dead coming out of that one. Still, there was no drama at all. I don’t think my pulse rate increased much above idle during the whole day that I tested this smooth, wonderful motorbike.
For the top-speed run, I selected a miles-long stretch of straight, new pavement and ran it hard up through the gears. Even reaching redline in each one, the front end never did more than skip a little bit. Wheelies would have to be intentional affairs, requiring a stiff tug on the bars to initiate and then the motor would hold the hoop on high. I didn’t bother, as I’d been warned that the same motor in the DL1000 VStrom had experienced oil starvation during extending monowheel stunts. Instead I concentrated on getting the power to the ground and watching that speedometer wind out. Just after I saw 151 indicated, I noticed what might be a police cruiser rounding the curve up ahead. Grabbing those tenacious brakes, I hauled down to semi-legal speed before he could get a bead on me with the radar. False alarm… just a dark blue Crown Vic with a wannabe Sheriff at the wheel. OK, so I lied; the heartbeat accelerated a little bit on that one.
There was only one thing I found lacking in Suzuki’s latest masterpiece, and it was certainly not the fault of the manufacturer. The EPA mandates ridiculously low sound levels for any new motorcycle save the latest offerings from Harley or Indian. So although it accelerates like a buggered baboon, it still sounds like a mildly distressed lawn tractor. I’m sure the huge aluminum exhaust cans will be quickly scrapped by new owners in favor of rowdier carbon fiber or titanium bits. With the motor bellowing through unfettered exhausts, perhaps the rider will experience a greater sense of urgency.
Handling was solid, with the super-stiff frame allowing clear communication with the road at both ends. I might have stiffened the preload a bit on the rear for really aggressive riding, and the front end felt a bit vague at slower speeds. I think this was due to the steering damper, and I have to wonder if that device is really necessary on this bike. I’m betting Suzuki erred on the side of safety, after the vicious tank-slapping reputation of the TL1000S. The springing and damping were adequate to even the most aggressive street riding, and I can’t imaging needing much more for a track day. At speed, everything flowed together and it was easy to set a pace that would challenge most race-rep sportbikes to keep up.
Performance testing done, it was time to see how the big SV-S shapes up as an everyday rider. Rolling down Highway 61, at or near the speed limit, one appreciates the somewhat relaxed ergonomics of the S-model. This was where I wished we were testing the naked version, as it would have been nice to sample the more upright riding position. But the S does nicely for moderate distances. At higher sustained speeds, with the wind taking the weight off my lower back and wrists, I imagine long distances could be quite pleasant. I’m sure the SV-S is aimed squarely at the well-established sport touring market here, and it hits the bullseye first shot. While stop and go traffic was a bit unpleasant, it was no worse than any other sporty bike I’ve ridden. I imagine the naked bike would do better here as well.
This is the first motorcycle I have ever seen equipped with 4-way flashers. I had intended to take note of it only as an oddity, but fate had other plans… On my last day with the big SV, the rear tire picked up a jagged piece of metal in the parking lot at work. I was able to pull the offending sliver out with a needle-nose pliers, but had no way to patch the tire. Then I remembered something my brother Jim told me years ago: He once used Superglue to repair a flat tire on an ATV. Apparently, you just stick the pointy spout down into the hole, wiggle it around as you squeeze the bottle to fill the hole with this tenacious adhesive. Let it cure and fill the tire. That ATV ran for years on that repair, and I only had to make it back to Moto-Primo. It just happened that we had an ample supply of the Loctite version in the lab, so I gave it a try.
After allowing ample time for the glue to cure, I started the bike and pushed the button for the 4-way flashers. Riding slowly the half mile to the gas station was a strange experience, but at least I knew that cars coming up from behind would see the flashers and give me and the wobbly motorbike a wide berth. Once at the station, I aired up the tire and returned the bike to Moto Primo without losing a single PSI. Of course I told them about the flat so that they would change the tire, and you would be ill-advised to try riding a streetbike for any length of time on such a repair. But those 4-way flashers actually came in handy.
Now, while the S would be a great streetbike, I think the naked version might suit the all-round rider’s needs a bit better. It’s a shame that none of those were available at this writing. But the SV1000S is a near perfect sport-touring bike, with all the performance you would ever need on public roads and concessions to rider comfort which would be greatly appreciated when living with the bike day to day. Add some hard luggage and you could do some serious miles. Iron Butt anyone?
by Gus Breiland
As I rolled the 2003 Suzuki SV1000S past my motorcycle for the test ride, I looked over at my motorcycle and reluctantly said “Really babe, she means nothing to me.” What little did my cycle know was this was part of my secret plans to replace her.
I kind of equate the feelings that I had to how the movies portray a husband caught in bed with his mistress by his wife. Inevitably, the husband utters the line “Honey, she meant nothing to me! It was just sex.” Now that guy is in never never land. His wife is pissed about the affair and the affair is pissed about the “just sex” statement. After I come to the realization that I am cheating on an inanimate object that doesn’t understand that I am looking forward to a ride in the country side with a newer and more aggressive mistress, I bring the SV1000S to life and we head out.
My destinations typically are never predetermined. For the most part I am too scatter brained to try and figure out what town I am supposed to be in and at what time. So I typically head out with a vague destination in mind and usually change that destination often and without reason. Not on this morning however. With a bike like the SV1000S that is screaming for twisties and a beautiful day to myself, I head for Hwy. 60 without a care in the world. For I know that my motorcycle of 3 years won’t be tapping its’ foot at the garage door yelling “Where the hell have you been? And who the hell is this?” Motorcycles don’t have feet!
Over the past few years, Suzuki has been proving that they can produce functional, affordable motorcycles that are attractive and well sorted. With the Bandit, V-Strom and the extremely popular SV650, Suzuki released the SV1000S to not only fill the gap left behind by the end of the TL1000 but to add to their already strong line up of good motorcycles.
I wanted to call this a poor mans fun bike. But I think that leaves an impression that the SV1000S is not that good of a motorcycle. Don’t let the MSRP of $8,599 fool you, the fit and finish of this motorcycle is spot on and the V-twin power is more than enough to keep up with your buddies on your Sunday morning breakfast runs.
The new SV styling seen on both the SV650S and SV1000S is a far cry from the TL1000 in my humble opinion. This is a motorcycle where you can see the engine slung under an aluminum truss-style frame. The frame is constructed using a high-vacuum die-cast process that allows more consistent strength and fewer welded sections. Without the plastic façade of tupperware, you can appreciate the SV’s simple purpose. The bike wants to be ridden.
Suzuki designers streamlined the cockpit so that it was clean and functional. No extra dials or doodads. Just the analog tach as your center of attention surrounded by everything else. Directly below is your LCD speedometer, odometer / tripmeters and temperature gauge. There is also a LCD clock and low fuel warning light. With that, the controls of course include standards such as turn signals, high and low beams and the kill switch but it also includes little extras that hopefully become standards in the industry. The passing light trigger, for quickly flashing the high beams along with hazards are two buttons on the bars that I would like to see on each and every machine.
The liquid-cooled, 996cc 90 degree V-twin looks and feels incredibly light. With a dry weight of 417 pounds, I found that the bike responded to me very well. With an aggressive seating position, you will find yourself flicking this motorcycle through corners faster and tighter than you ever have before.
Set up for corners and stopping for minivans is provided by dual 310mm discs up front and a single 220mm disc in the back. The fronts are 4 piston calipers while the rear is a dual piston caliper.
The seat was ok. Not that most comfortable but at the same time, you can put a tank of gas, 4.7 gallons, through the SV and not worry about your butt taking a few ZZZZ’s in the middle of the ride. In fact, the only discomfort I found on the motorcycle related to my riding position was the throttle wrist. I found that after a long ride, my wrist was hurting due to a riding position that placed most of my weight on my wrist. A throttle rocker / throttle lock would help this immensely and notice how I do not blame myself. It can’t be my weight; it must be the motorcycle’s fault!
If you follow the seat back under the passenger seat, you will notice the taillight is comprised of 2 lines of high-visibility LED’s. Big, bright and red. A bikes rear-end to save your rear end.
Mirrors were standard sport bike mirrors. They are on the fine line between staring at your shoulders or being just in the right spot. Of course, who needs mirrors, right? There only for watching your friend get smaller and smaller as you accelerate…what’s that? Flashing lights? Must be a parade!
Speaking of lights, if you asked me for one reason to buy this motorcycle I would have to answer “Headlights.” Ladies and gentleman, what wowed me even more than the Suzuki’s performance, styling and price were its’ headlights. I seem to do quite a bit of night riding and I found myself absolutely loving the amount of road I was being shown. With the “S” model you get dual 60/55W headlights with running lights. The other nice thing about the head light system is that both headlights are illuminated. While not always cool, this eliminates the “man” pulling you over for having one headlight burned out. Apparently the boys in blue are a little more worried about function versus style.
For being a relatively inexpensive motorcycle, I was pleased to see that Suzuki has included such refinements as fuel injection (I have yet to figure out why carbs are still in use), a suspension where both front and back have adjustable preload and compression and also a hydraulic clutch. One area where I noticed a bit of “something isn’t quite right here” was in the transmission. I felt the tranny was a bit clunky and unrefined. You know you are shifting this six-speed gearbox due to the excessive sound rather than a subtle squeeze of the clutch lever and pop, you’re in. I was riding a brand spanking new motorcycle, and possibly the tranny would loosen up a bit over time but I am skeptical of that. My guess is Suzuki put a functional transmission in the motorcycle and that was it.
The electronic fuel injection system is a SDTV. Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve System which maintains optimal air velocity in the intake tract for smooth low to mid rpm throttle response and high torque output within the 52mm throttle bodies. Or at least that is what Suzuki writes. I, on the other had, can translate that into a few simple phrases such as “Wow” or “Whoopee”. Which ever you prefer. I found that throttle response to be excellent with acceleration equally enjoyable.
We tested the all-silver model. While orange is available and quite eye catching, I would have to say the silver was the most appealing to me. The bodywork and frame being of similar color and the slightly darker engine gave the bike a sculpted look as if it were carved out of a block of aluminum. Clean, polished and ready to ride.
Would I recommend this motorcycle to anyone looking for a fast V-twin that is relatively affordable? Yes. Is this bike worth looking at even though you know you can afford something more expensive? Definitely. The Suzuki SV1000S is an affordable fun machine that will not bust your bank account. As and everyday rider or a weekend warrior riding with your friends, the SV1000S will leave you with a smile on your face.
Now after all of that, I am sure you are curious to find out if I hauled the old pushrod and driveshaft out to the curb and upgraded to the new fuel injection and chain? No, not yet. But the Suzuki SV1000S has certainly given me naughty thoughts and I am hoping to add to my little black book of bikes ridden this summer to see if I can find that certain special something to call my own.
I must thank Motoprimo at 2610 East 32nd St. Minneapolis Minnesota for the use of this great bike. Can you believe they handed us the keys to a bike fresh out of the crate? I know I can’t.